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Africa

Attacks on Boko Haram militants taking a toll on Cameroonian soldiers

Sambisa Forest on Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria is a Boko Haram stronghold. Several Cameroonian troops have been killed and others injured during operations to rid the forest of insurgents.

Among the soldiers rushed to the Yaounde military hospital after sustaining injuries in the Sambisa Forest is 26 year old Fabian Ngo. His battalion had destroyed four Boko Haram camps, killing dozens of insurgents.

Ngo's victory was however cut short. "On our way back, our vehicle drove over on a landmine and then there was a big shock," he said.

Ngo and several other Cameroonian troops were seriously wounded in the blast. "They brought us here but now we are getting better. I feel so happy. This is what we have been waiting for. Maybe in two months when my legs are healed, I will wear my uniforms again and go back to continue my mission," said Ngo.

Rescuing hostages

Efforts by Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad to rescue Boko Haram captives haven't yielded many results. "Sambisa Forest is very dangerous," said Boubakar Bakary, a commander fighting on the Boko Haram frontline in Cameroon.

It is reported that Boko Haram is holding hundreds of civilian hostages. "I think Sambisa is one of Boko Haram's main strongholds because many Cameroonians have lost their lives there struggling to free the hostages from Boko Haram. Most of the Cameroonian hostages we have been looking for are in that forest. We need to do everything we can to eliminate Boko Haram from that forest," Bakary said.

Difficulties taking on Boko Haram

Bakary refused to say whether the multi-national joint task force was planning to go on the offensive against the militants. But Fonka Mutta, a Cameroonian radio journalist who reported from Sambisa Forest on several occasions, said taking Boko Haram in Sambisa would not be easy .

Nigeria Armee rettet Mädchen (c) dpa - Bildfunk

Nigerian and Cameroonian troops claim to have rescued hundreds of young girls from Sambisa Forest

"Sambisa is not a small zone that can be easily invaded or searched through and thoroughly," said Mutta. "It is actually a huge national park, a huge forest reserve that even the Nigerian government cannot access and control fully. Popular opinion thinks that you can just storm the place and solve the problem but it is not that easy," he added.

The joint-tasked force launched "Operation Tentacle" in March to rid Sambisa of Boko Haram once and for all. But it remains to be seen how soon the goal of rescuing the the Chibok girls will be achieved.

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